Jaconellis - the place to be

Joan Cumbers, without her vanity case!
From the private collection of Joan Cumbers

In the 1950’s Tony and Mena Jaconelli ran a milk bar, which during the evenings became a popular teenage haunt. It was happy place, where you could buy espresso coffee, listen to the juke box and chat with your friends. At the time it was regarded by many, as the best coffee bar in town.  

See and be seen
‘Jaconellis’ was on the corner of the seafront and Ship Street, not far from Pool Valley and the Steine. It was an ideal place to meet with your friends if going on to another venue. If you had arranged to meet up with friends, big café windows meant you could see and be seen.

A ‘must have’ fashion item
Dressed in our drainpipe trousers and ballerina shoes, or tight skirts and stiletto heeled shoes, we girls posed on the high stools, holding our long umbrellas and vanity cases. A vanity case was a ‘must have’ fashion item which had a handle on top, and was used instead of a handbag. Their bulky shape made rendered them most useful in keeping a persistent boy at bay when in a tight corner! 

A special meeting place
My friends and I spent many evenings in Jaconellis, listening to Elvis, Buddy Holly, Gene Vincent, Little Richard and a particular favourite of mine, Sandy Nelson playing ‘Let there be drums’.  It holds very special memories for me, as it was there I met my husband 50 years ago. He had come down to the coast for the day. The rest as they say is history.

Comments about this page

  • Oh yes that was the place to be on a Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. What a friendly place the owners made it – you could sit for ages with a cup of coffee. It was always a good get together there, the music, the smell of coffee – lovely . Nearly everyone had a Vanity Bag made of a hard cardboard like material. Us girls always went to the roller rink in West Street those nights, so Jaconellis was always our meeting place. Lewes’s at the top of North Street for our stilettos for 10/6 and a blouse and long black skirt. You had to make sure you got to the rink early to get boots otherwise you had to sit on the side and watch. I always carried a pair of flats and my short skating skirt my friend Joses mum made me in my case. We certainly knew how to enjoy ourselves then didn’t we .

    By am (05/10/2009)
  • Does anyone remember The Cottage coffee bar in Middle Street. It was down a little lane at the Duke Street end. I spent many evenings there in the early sixties.

    By Roger Durrant (06/10/2009)
  • Hi Roger try: http://www.mybrightonandhove.org.uk/page_id__8929.aspx link for the cottage.

    By Peter Groves (06/10/2009)
  • Put The Cottage coffee bar into the search box at the top of page to find loads of memories of that magical place Roger.

    By Gordon Coleman (07/10/2009)
  • Hi Am, like you I also went to the roller rink. I was lucky with the boots, the chap who handed them out had a soft spot for me and saved me a good pair. Do you remember The Shoe Box, in the street behind Lewes’s, first on the right down West Street? They did Italian shoes, very much the in thing then.

    By Joan (26/10/2009)
  • Hi Joan. What year were you there? We might have been in the same crowd. It was a good time – you felt so safe in those days. We certainly knew how to enjoy ourselves.

    By Pam (09/11/2009)
  • Hi again Pam. It would have been during 1957/8.

    By Joan (10/11/2009)
  • Hi Joan. Sorry I took so long replying. I was at the rink around 1955/57. I remember the shop you mentioned but Lewes’s for shoes was my favourite as I bought my clothes there too. Also Delia Days below the Regent – I went there but I liked the sample shop in Sidney Street. I just love having something a little bit different from everyone else and you sure got it there. We lived in Lowerbev – it was a long trek but worth it. You could walk for miles then skating kept you fit as you know.

    By Pam (07/06/2010)
  • OOOh that is all about my Aunty Mena!! How exciting, my Dad, Aunty Mena’s youngest brother (RIP Dad) used to tell me and my sisters all the stories about that, and when my elder cousins, Stephen, Vanda and Trina were little. Fantastic!

    By Theresa Arcari (31/07/2010)
  • Hi, sorry to lower the tone after reading all your stories about stilletoes, Jaconelli’s and vanity cases, but do you remember O’Hagan’s hot dog shop on the right of Ship St, just near Jaconelli’s? Best hot dogs ever AND cooked outside.

    By Graham Sharp (16/10/2010)
  • I used to go to both the coffee bars that you mention, the one in Middle St was next to Hennaseys. There used to be a bloke who we called Jack Frost that used Jaconeli`s. I was a page boy at the Metropole in 1959 and always went to Jaconelli`s with my mates.

    By Alan Read (24/05/2011)
  • I remember Jaconelli’s, but my 1950s venue was the Whisky-go-go coffee bar near to the Clock Tower. A basement dive with an original juke box, but you had to go to the nearby Quadrant pub for alcoholic beverage.

    By Dick Gunn (11/11/2012)
  • Hi yes I do remember fantastic times. I remember Whisky Go Go and Jaconelli’s. I wish we could go back. Please please does anyone remember Terry’s milk bar, Upper St James Street and the Hand in Hand? I would love to hear from anyone who remembers.

    By Rosemary Brazill (10/09/2013)
  • Vanda Jaconelli was in my class at St Paul’s primary school. My first proper Spaghetti Bolognese was at the family home above the café, I had no idea how to eat the long strands of pasta!


    By Sabine Watts (04/07/2015)
  • I do recall Jaconelli’s as a visitor to Brighton in the ’50s, but only during the day, and mainly because of the large open window on its corner site. I was too young to enter what I then considered an exotic venue, but it looked very inviting to a youngster. Does anyone know when it finally closed?

    By Stefan Bremner-Morris (05/07/2015)
  • Yes I remember it well – a  bit Spartan but a lot of us teens liked it; also the Penny Farthing bottom of North Road I think.

    By Michael Hicks (19/07/2017)
  • This message is a bit belated for Rosemary Brazil regarding Terry’s milk bar. Terry was a Canadian. When I was a young layabout I looked after the milk bar while Terry was over the road in the Hand In Hand. I used to cook mainly chips for customers. As was the norm a cup of coffee or tea sort of gave you the right to hang around for hours doing nothing. Every now and again Terry would come over from the pub for some cash out of the till for more drinks. I also had to make up bread rolls every morning for the girls in the Tyresole factory a few doors down the road. They were a happy lot, always ribbing me as I went through the factory, there was always loud music blaring away. I did not get paid anything and was quiet happy just looking after the place and scoffing chips and eggs all day. Happy days. As an aside is Rosemary Brazil any relation to Tony Brazil the boxer?.

    By Mick Peirson (21/07/2017)

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